The 150th Open Championship was getting under way at St Andrews on Thursday.
Here, the PA news agency looks forward to the action in the final major of the year.
McIlroy braced for difficult challenge
Rory McIlroy was expecting St Andrews to play tough and get tougher as he began his latest Open challenge.
There have been suggestions the game’s modern big-hitters could make the course look straightforward but, with fast and firm ground and likely wind, McIlroy is not convinced.
He said: “I think with the condition of the golf course, with a little bit of breeze, you can bomb it around here and hit driver and get it close to the greens, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to make birdies from those positions.
“I just think with the way the golf course is playing and how firm and fast it is, it’s just going to get super tricky by the end of the week.”
McIlroy believes the conditions could even play into the hands of none other than Tiger Woods.
“It’s going to be a game of chess this week, and no one’s been better at playing that sort of chess game on a golf course than Tiger over the last 20 years,” he said.
As a two-time Open winner over the Old Course, Woods inevitably heads the field when it comes to specialist knowledge of the famous Fife links. Other past St Andrews victors who could again challenge include Zach Johnson and Louis Oosthuizen. Tyrrell Hatton may also fancy his chances, having excelled in the Dunhill Links Championship. Although that event only features two rounds at the Old Course, Hatton won in 2016 and 2017 and came runner-up in 2018.
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Key tee times
0635: Paul Lawrie, Webb Simpson, Min Woo Lee0814: Francesco Molinari, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose0958: Collin Morikawa, Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele1009: Shane Lowry, Justin Thomas, Viktor Hovland1326: Scottie Scheffler, Joaquin Niemann, Tyrrell Hatton1459: Tiger Woods, Matt Fitzpatrick, Max Homa1510: Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm, Harold Varner
A dry and bright start was expected on Thursday but with cloud building up during the day. Sunny spells are expected to continue but showers are possible in the afternoon. Light winds in the morning, with gusts of 15-20mph later.